Implosive (flooding) therapy reduces symptoms of PTSD in Vietnam combat veterans
In a randomized clinical trial, 24 Vietnam veterans with a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were randomly assigned either to a group receiving 14 to 16 sessions of implosive (flooding) therapy or to a waiting-list control. Standard psychometrics were administered before, following, and six months after treatment, and therapist ratings of symptomotology were concurrently obtained in personal interviews. When compared to the waiting-list control, those subjects receiving implosive therapy showed significant improvement across many of the psychometric measures and the therapist ratings of psychopathology. Specific changes in the re-experiencing dimension of PTSD, anxiety, and depression were notable, while treatment did not seem to influence the numbing and social avoidance aspects of PTSD. The results are discussed with respect to the importance of systematic exposure to traumatic memories, as one component of comprehensive treatment of combat-related PTSD, and the need for skills training interventions directed at improving social competence in interpersonal interactions.